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  Emotional motivation in gaming, and Firefly  (Read 1186 times)
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Offline BrassApparatus

Junior Member





« Posted 2013-06-24 09:45:16 »

I started this topic because I wanted to branch off a discussion that was happening here.

The tangent I'm on is about how non-positive emotions motivate us in gaming and media. I'm a fan of the works of H.P. Lovecraft (the father of horror writing imho) and, generally, any story that features self doubt/ slow steps into madness for the protagonists.

What I've really been thinking on for a while is why I like the show Firefly (I'm excluding the movie Serenity because I don't like it or think it fits in). I bear an undying love for the show and I am not completely sure what makes me feel that way. I have a tendency towards liking western and post-apocalyptic themes and it touches on those but I don't think that's all of it. Back to topic, I also don't feel the show is innately positive. It feels almost sullen to me without the overbearing, overt, pouty feeling I get from shows that really want to be dark/negative.

What I'm trying to figure out is what draws people to non-positive themes in media and also what elements of those themes exist in my favorite show. How well do those themes work  in games?
Offline actual

JGO Coder


Medals: 23



« Reply #1 - Posted 2013-06-24 14:34:31 »

I like Firefly a lot as well and connected well with the "sullen" theme of the show.

Firefly creates a lot of sympathy and empathy from the audience due to their circumstances. The main characters are the "good guys" even though they are criminals. They are both likeable and underdogs. You root for them and want them to succeed. At the same time, the show sets up an environment where you get the feeling that they won't ever really succeed. They may score enough jobs to survive, but they won't ever get the "big score" that will allow them to retire fat, happy, and rich. They will continue to fly that outdated transport ship, staying (barely) one step ahead of the law and the other criminals they deal with.

I think it would be a challenge to implement this dynamic in a game as it works against common aspects of games such as:

Winning: In a game like this, there is no winning, only not losing.
Progression: If you are stomping around in your +50 Enchanted Dragon Armor, wielding your +30 Legendary Vorpal Sword of Destruction, you aren't really an underdog any more.


To design a game like this, the game world and/or game play would have to be so engrossing so as not to seem repetitive. You'd have to give them something else to play for rather than beating the game or maxing out on stats/levels.

I think Flotilla by Blendo Games comes close to this. There is no win condition, you play until you reach a set number of turns or until you die. You never really get a chance to build a massive or overly powerful fleet. One reason it works pretty well is that each game is so short. I don't think the game necessarily generates empathy, or sympathy, but it is a place to start.



 
Offline Cero
« Reply #2 - Posted 2013-06-24 14:45:22 »

I like the show Firefly (I'm excluding the movie Serenity
Heresy. Serenity is awesome and even works on its own, like a movie should.
But anyway

Yeah I'm not sure that I completely get your point since - I don't know - many shows are like that.
Take TNG for example: Most stories are about moral and ethical dilemmas and overall Star Trek doesnt have a positive goal other than exploration.

A typical "non-positive" theme people are interested in, since ancient times, is conflict.

If you like
Quote
slow steps into madness for the protagonists
you probably know Amnesia. You should definitely check out Eternal Darkness if you dont know it, since its the best lovecraft and madness themed game I have ever seen; Even driving the player into slight madness with breaking the 4th wall.

Mystery is also very appealing and its not inherently positive - In fact most mysteries are kinda dark.

I can't really talk about psychological aspects too much.

I actually would like to know which Stories you think have a positive theme - that are still very serious ?

Conflict is inherently not ideal/positive, but it is what makes a story interesting, so...

I think what you mean with Firefly is that there most characters don't even trust each other, are at core self interested and dont have vast friends/reinforcements/resources. Unlike TNG where everybody is very friendly, honest, respectful and have a lot of friends and options.
Gotta be careful with the terminology there, I am not sure what you would call these difference... maybe "premise".
But "theme" is really what the story is about, like "man vs. self", "revenge", "escape".   Refer to:  http://www.ipl.org/div/farq/plotFARQ.html
Most of these themes are hardly positive

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Offline BrassApparatus

Junior Member





« Reply #3 - Posted 2013-06-28 03:18:17 »

Allright guys [and gals], sorry I've been silent for a day or two. I've been thinking on this.
Quote
I actually would like to know which Stories you think have a positive theme - that are still very serious ?
To start with, I looked over my collection of books and movies etc. I am not very good at this sort of analytical rebuttal/ persuasive argument but I say one title that stood out to me as an easy mention. The new Star Trek movie, I think it has an overall positive trend despite lots of negative elements and It is definitely a serious film.

Quote
Yeah I'm not sure that I completely get your point since - I don't know - many shows are like that.
Quote
Conflict is inherently not ideal/positive, but it is what makes a story interesting, so...

I agree that conflict is not inherently ideal but I don't think that its necessarily negative. Conflict is, imho, neutral, non-boolean. Just because it is not ideal does not mean that it is a negative occurrence. Taking that as true would mean that just because lots of shows have conflict (like all of 'em) doesn't mean that they are negative.

On other topics:

Quote
you probably know Amnesia. You should definitely check out Eternal Darkness if you dont know it, since its the best lovecraft and madness themed game I have ever seen; Even driving the player into slight madness with breaking the 4th wall.

I freaking love amnesia and I'll check out ED when I can but honestly I haven't seriously played a game in forever what with work/keeping the lady happy/programming all night.

Quote
I think Flotilla by Blendo Games comes close to this. There is no win condition, you play until you reach a set number of turns or until you die. You never really get a chance to build a massive or overly powerful fleet. One reason it works pretty well is that each game is so short. I don't think the game necessarily generates empathy, or sympathy, but it is a place to start.

I looked it up, it looks fascinating, I love this sort of thing and like I said above, I wish I could devote the time it deserves right now.

I've been thinking about this some more and the only way I could imagine a game implementing this sort of feel would be (like actual said) do away with power increases entirely; or to make power increases so minor as to feel insubstantial, novel. You could even use the futility of power increases to drive home the point that the environment (i.e. man v environment/god) has you completely beaten. The problem is, what would be the hook that kept your players enamored with the experience? It would have to be something extrinsic with regards to combat. Would such a game be non-combative? ...

The other line I am on is that of play style. Would this sort of experience lend itself to a guided or unguided(sandbox) style of play? ... more thoughts to come...
Offline VaPS
« Reply #4 - Posted 2013-08-09 02:51:11 »

I'd suggest you play Lone Survivor. It's a horror-adventure, 6-hour single player sort-of-RPG at a fair price on Steam.
Yes it's another zombie apocalypse game, but it's coming from a much less explored angle of feeling helpless and weak.
Excuse me for being off-topic, but I find we partly share interests and this game is one of the best I've come across!

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